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Business in Vancouver reporter Frank O’Brien reports that housing starts-the construction of new housing in the City of Vancouver has fallen by 80 per cent when compared to the first half of 2016. The figures are from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)  and show that starts have declined from 5,784 to 1,860 units.

While it is  not unexpected that single family detached housing starts have declined from 708 to 462, the surprise has been in condominium apartments, which fell from 3,290 in the first half of 2016 to 880 in the first half of 2017.  That is 73 per cent less. Despite very high construction levels, a report from the Urban Development Institute found that there was little inventory of  unsold condominiums.

“Total housing starts across the Metro Vancouver region also fell, but by a smaller margin, to 12,200 units so far this year, compared with 14,840 in the same period a year earlier. Increases were seen in the larger suburban communities of Burnaby, Surrey, Coquitlam and New Westminster.

Eric Bond, CMHC principal market analysis in Vancouver, noted that the number of homes under construction hit a record high of 39,141 units across all of Metro Vancouver in May and remained near that level in June. He suggested the downturn in Vancouver starts may relate to developer fatigue. The constraints on builders are very real in terms of the availability and costs of equipment and materials, which means further increasing the pace of construction is challenging,” Bond said.

Vancouver developer and architect Michael Geller said the lack of condo starts in Vancouver may be linked to a current backlog of applications. “[The developers] are probably waiting for permits.”

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